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Westmoreland County Prison Guard Union Secures Pay Increase in New Four-Year Contract

03 Jan 2024, Jail News, by

Westmoreland County Prison secures a four-year contract, providing corrections officers with annual raises and changes to overtime scheduling.

Westmoreland County Prison Guard Union Secures Pay Increase in New Four-Year Contract - Inmate Lookup

A new contract with the United Mine Workers of America Local 522, which represents more than 130 prison officers working in Westmoreland County Prison, was approved by the pay board. The contract is for a period of four years.

The guards have been working without a contract for the past year, and it expired at the end of 2022. Members will receive annual raises of 85 cents an hour as part of the new deal, reflecting an average pay increase of about 3%, according to Alexis Bevan, the county’s human resources director.

The agreement features modifications to the procedure for assigning mandatory overtime shifts for Westmoreland County Prison guards. Officials have confirmed that the new contract requires staff to rotate overtime schedules rather than the previous seniority-only system.

Scott Kennedy, president of the prison guard union, expressed satisfaction with the contract, stating that overall, it is a good agreement. He emphasized that the contract’s primary objective is to ensure adequate staffing in the jail and make it more attractive to new personnel.

Meanwhile, under the terms of a new labor deal approved on Tuesday, starting salaries for assistant district attorneys and public defenders in Westmoreland County will increase by 24% this year.

The county’s salary board, consisting of commissioners and Controller Jeffrey Balzer, approved a four-year labor deal for the collective bargaining unit encompassing 34 lawyers responsible for prosecuting and defending criminal court cases. This decision, officials noted, has the potential to enhance recruitment and job retention in the face of a challenging employment environment. The contract includes a significant increase in starting annual salaries, totaling over $12,700.

Newly hired attorneys in the district attorney and public defender offices will now earn $65,000 annually. As part of the deal, senior lawyers in both offices will also witness similar salary increases this year, according to Bevan.

The hope is that these increased salaries will attract interest from law school graduates and contribute to talent retention, especially as District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli and Public Defender Wayne McGrew have faced challenges in filling positions over the past two years. The starting salary for public defenders in Allegheny County last year was $65,000.

Commissioner Sean Kertes expressed optimism about the agreement as a step toward retaining legal professionals and combating the trend of individuals gaining experience in the county and subsequently moving to the private sector.

The contract stipulates 2.25% raises for lawyers in the final three years.

Commissioner Ziccarelli, although not involved in the ADA’s contract negotiations, supports their efforts to secure deserved salaries and hopes it will enable the county to compete with others that have offered significantly higher salaries.



Photo by Ron Lach :